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As the Cincinnati Bengals prepare for their most important NFL game in the team's past 31 years as they travel to Tennesee, waiting for them in Nashville will be a head coach with plenty of his own ties to the Buckeye State in Mike Vrabel.
The Akron-area native was a Walsh Jesuit High School graduate and starred for four years at Ohio State before joining the Buckeyes as a linebackers coach after a stellar career for the Buckeyes.
“When you leave and you make the decision to pick up two kids and a wife — you thought you’d live in Columbus for the rest of your life — it’s cool to come back,” Vrabel said during a visit to the school in 2018. “It’s cool to come back in this position to try to help coaches in this state who come to the clinic, and certainly help coach Meyer and his staff in any way I can.”
Mike Vrabel got his start in the Akron area
Vrabel was a 1993 graduate of Walsh Jesuit High School in Cuyahoga Falls, where he was a standout football player as a defensive end and tight end. In 1993, he was named the Akron Beacon Journal Player of the Year.
In his final season at Walsh, Vrabel had 106 tackles and was an All-Ohio choice.
Mike Vrabel starred in college for Ohio State
At Ohio State, Vrabel played from 1993-1996 where he was named Big Ten Defensive Lineman of the Year in his junior and senior seasons and was a consensus first-team All-American as a senior. He was inducted in the Ohio State Athletics Hall of Fame in 2012.
Vrabel was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the third round of the 1997 NFL Draft and played four seasons there.
Vrabel joined the New England Patriots as a free agent in 2001 and played there until 2008 and won three Super Bowl titles with the team and scored a touchdown in the 2004 game.
Vrabel finished his career with Kansas City in 2009-2010.
Vrabel started coaching career at Ohio State
Vrabel served as a linebackers coach for the Buckeyes for three seasons, before spending stints as an assistant for Houston and New England before being hired as Tennesee's head coach in 2018.
He's 41-24 after four years there.
Vrabel still sticks up for Ohio State football
Vrabel isn't afraid of still mixing it up with his players about the Ohio State-Michigan rivalry.
Last month, Tennessee Titans offensive tackle Taylor Lewan's alma mater, made the College Football Player and took aim at the Cincinnati Bearcats, who lost 27-6 to Alabama in the Cotton Bowl playoff game.
Cincinnati had to be the sacrificial Lamb for the non power 5 schools. Now we know.
— Taylor Lewan (@TaylorLewan77) January 1, 2022
Vrabel quickly jumped in after the Wolverines were soundly defeated by the eventual national champion, 34-11. in the Orange Bowl semifinal.
"Make that (two sacrificial lamb emojis)’s," Vrabel quote-tweeted in response.
This article originally appeared on The Columbus Dispatch: Tennesee Titans head coach Mike Vrabel's roots run deep in Ohio